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(3rd LD) Number of S. Korea's virus cases unchanged at 28; 3 more patients to be released

All News 14:36 February 12, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead with updated info; ADDS more info throughout and photo; COMBINES with a story slugged coronavirus-patients release)

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Wednesday three more patients with the novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, will be released from quarantine, in addition to four previous discharges cases, out of a total of 28 confirmed cases.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the country's third, eighth, 17th virus-infected patients will be released from quarantine later in the day after full recovery.

Four other patients were previously discharged from hospitals after testing negative for the virus two consecutive times, the KCDC said in a statement.

Workers disinfect a market in the southern city of Gwangju, South Korea, on Feb. 11, 2020, amid fears over the spreading new coronavirus. (Yonhap)

The number of people tested for the coronavirus reached 5,074 as of early Wednesday, with 4,054 of them testing negative, sharply up from 3,535 earlier in the day, the KCDC said. Another 992 are currently in quarantine.

In an enhanced effort to stem spread of the virus, strict quarantine screening was enforced against entrants from Hong Kong and Macao, in addition to mainland China, starting earlier in the day.

The strict screening measure comes after reports that the country's 26th and 27th confirmed patients stayed in China's Guangdong province and traveled via Macao.

Passengers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao are required to use separate arrival counters at international airports across the country, according to the KCDC.

They must also write a special quarantine report, filling out health questionnaires to check whether they have a fever or respiratory problems, officials said. They must also disclose any visits to Hubei province -- the epicenter of the global outbreak -- in the past two weeks.

Those who fail to provide their mobile phone numbers and the address of their local accommodations are banned from entering the country, officials said.

Upon arrival in the country, they must also download a mobile application to report their health status every day, the government said.

Those failing to fill out their status, including such details as cough or fever, for more than two days after their arrival will receive phone calls from health authorities, officials said.

The government will then locate their whereabouts if they do not answer the phone calls.

Buses carrying a third group of South Korean evacuees, their Chinese spouses and family members from the coronavirus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan, enter the Korea Defense Language Institute in Icheon, 80 kilometers south of Seoul, on Feb. 12, 2020. (Yonhap)

Meanwhile, the country's third evacuation flight from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan arrived back in Seoul earlier in the day carrying 147 people comprising South Korean citizens and their Chinese spouses and family members.

The health authorities said five of them showed symptoms of the coronavirus and were sent to a hospital in central Seoul to undergo tests for possible infection.

The others will be tightly quarantined at a temporary shelter in Icheon, 80 kilometers south of Seoul, for the next 14 days, the presumed incubation period for the virus.

The other 700 nationals who were brought back into the country through two previous chartered flights will all be discharged from state-run facilities over the weekend as planned following a 14-day quarantine period.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled an official name for the novel virus: COVID-19.


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